Jobs, traineeships or volunteering: these are the three areas in which the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) - officially launched just a few weeks ago - operates. “The aim of the ESC is to promote solidarity as a value that can increase the participation of young people and organisations in accessible, high-quality activities that help to bolster social cohesion, democracy and European citizenship.” This was the intention fuelling the European Commission when it launched the ESC. It is the largest initiative of its kind for at least 20 years or, in other words, since the Erasmus programme was introduced. In fact, it is a sort of advanced version of the Erasmus project, with a focus on promoting solidarity. “The Commission has allocated 341 million euros to the initiative - 20% from funds earmarked for the cause ad hoc, the rest by reallocating other budgets - which also aims to increase youth employment: it does not just promote volunteering opportunities but also traineeships and job contracts for young EU residents between the ages of 18 and 30, at entities working on projects connected to solidarity,” explains Nicolò Triacca, Head of the Europe Area at CSVnet, the Italian national association of service centres for volunteering.
The Italian companies taking up the reigns for this project are ANG, the National Young People’s Agency, and ANPAL, the National Agency for Active Labour Policies. In terms of job opportunities, ANPAL already has two pilot projects running in Europe (the other is in France). The ANPALforSolidarity Corps – Occupational Strand is trialling the ESC formula. Thus far it has involved 42 young people in various organisations. Some are for-profit, some not-for-profit, but they all have social objectives.
Below we provide detailed information on how the scheme works, for anyone interested in signing up to the ESC.
The ESC accepts people between the ages of 18 and 30 onto its projects.
You must be resident in one of the EU’s 28 member states.
HOW TO SIGN UP
The first step is to enrol on the online platform, which has been active since late 2017. There are currently over 70,000 people enrolled from all over Europe, 66% of whom are women and 34% men. There are a good 10,000 young Italians enrolled, putting them in second place after Romanians.
The ESC is subdivided into two wide categories to meet young people’s needs: one is volunteer projects, the other traineeships and jobs.
The volunteer placements in which the young people will be involved are all either run by recognised associations and organisations or they are “solidarity projects” run by informal groups; for traineeships and jobs, the projects are run by non-profits, such as NGOs, as well as for-profit organisations. Information useful for employers can be found at eusolidaritycorps.anpal.gov.it.
From two weeks to 12 months
There are ESC volunteering projects active in over 60 sectors, comprising every area of society where volunteer services might be needed. At the following link you can find the official list (in English), including the dates for each opportunity: europa.eu/youth/volunteering/project_en.
In 2019 (the application deadline for which is 16 October 2018), the European Commission has identified three priority policies: integration of third-country nationals (including asylum seekers and refugees), response to environmental challenges (including disaster prevention) and protecting European cultural heritage.
Board, accommodation and travel
Board and accommodation provision is specific to each project (certain entities, for example, can provide accommodation). Travel expenses are the responsibility of the young person.
Traineeships and jobs
From two to 12 months
The projects fall within six areas: education, health, social integration, protection of the environment, disaster prevention, provision of food
Board, accommodation and travel
The EU will cover travel costs, both for first-stage interviews (up to 600 euros, depending on the location) and for relocation (up to 1400 euros, which includes a benefit to help with the first month’s rent). Travel costs for participants to return to their home countries at the end of projects are also covered. After the first wage is paid, the young person is responsible for their own board and accommodation costs.
The EU may contribute up to 1500 euros towards the cost of a language course; up to 400 to have country-of-origin education and qualifications obtained recognised in the destination country; up to 1000 euros as a support benefit for young people with specific mobility requirements; a voucher covering the cost of any certifications obtained from online training courses.
The remuneration awarded by the entity participating in the project (which must have social objectives and must comply with all national regulations on employment contracts) varies from case to case, but it will be in line with the participants’ colleagues working at the same organisation. For traineeships, the EU supplements a monthly payment of around 300-400 euros (depending on the country) with 600 euros a month for up to six months.
The first-round deadline for projects is 16 October 2018. Following that, young people enrolled on the online platform will be able to apply to any projects that have been approved.
When the experience comes to an end, participants can receive a participation certificate and a Youthpass certificate attesting to the skills they have acquired through their experience with the European Solidarity Corps.